Two out of three ain’t bad?

The finish line is in sight for the Detroit casino workers strike, though the tape hasn’t quite been broken yet. On Friday, the Detroit Casino Council, which represents UNITE HERE Local 24, UAW, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324, and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, announced that it had reached a tentative agreement on new contracts with Detroit’s three casinos: MGM Grand, Motorcity, and Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

It’s not all good news, though. MGM Grand workers rejected the deal and will remain on strike, which has been going on for over a month. Workers at the other two casinos ended their strike at 9:00pm Sunday after voting to accept the new five-year contracts.

Approximately 2,100 employees are covered by the new contracts, but that still leaves around 1,600 MGM workers who want to keep negotiating.

“The historic five-year tentative agreement covering 3700 employees includes the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the Detroit casino industry’s 23-year history (including an immediate 18% pay raise on average), no health care cost increases for employees, workload reductions and other job protections, first-ever technology contract language, retirement increases and more,” the Detroit Casino Council said in a statement on Friday, before the MGM workers voted down the deal.

Specifically, workers will receive a $3 per hour raise right away for the first year and $5 per hour total over five years. For the first time, they have negotiated an employer 401(k) match and a paid Juneteenth holiday.

Workers proud

“Our strike showed the casino industry and the world just what Detroit’s casino workers are made of,” said Tavera McCree, a Valet Cashier at Hollywood Casino at Greektown. “This is a defining moment for workers in Detroit and nationwide. The gains we have made will change the lives of so many families who are living paycheck to paycheck. I would like to thank everyone who stood strong on the picket line to make this win possible.”

One of the big gripes the unions had is that they made sacrifices, including no pay raises, to help the casinos stay afloat during the pandemic shutdowns and the reduced capacities that followed. Since then, the Detroit casinos have thrived and “gaming industry revenues have hit record highs,” according to the Detroit Casino Council. The list of demands aside, the casino workers want to share in the success of the casinos when they took major hits to save them.

The unions and MGM have not set a date for continued negotiations, but will, of course, continue to try to work toward an agreement.

Image credit: / Jessica Branstetter

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